Tuareg Rally, Day 3: Hell’s Garden, Labyrinth And Dunes Around Merzouga

The mechanics had worked until late in the night to prepare the cars for the Start of Day 3. Since everything was ready, we ate a relaxed breakfast before heading over to the camp. We had a bad surprise; the Protruck’s left rear tire was flat.

As if someone had flipped a power switch, everyone was suddenly full of energy. The crew opened the truck to take out the tools and had the tire changed in 5 minutes flat. In another five minutes, the tire had been inspected, inflated, and remounted on the Protruck in place of the spare. Five minutes more, and Stéphane and Caro were on their way to the Start.

Since we had to pack up the equipment we had used, we’d never have time to make it to the Start before most of our cars were on the way, so we set off for the first photo point at Check Point 2, near the end of the second Special in the dunes. We were among the first to arrive and surveyed the landscape for the best place from which to watch the competitors arrive. It wasn’t long after that the official photographers decided to join us, “You should trust the amateurs,” one of them said. He even asked us to record some video with his camera while he was shooting stills.

The first to arrive were the motorcycles, but not long after we saw the first car coming over the top of the dune. Sylvain was among the first of the cars to arrive.

Not long after a few unsuspecting dromedaries showed up and the contestants had to navigate around them as well as the dunes. When the RR Belgica Team’s MAN came over the dune, the photo opportunity couldn’t have been better if it had been staged.

Florian and Yvan arrived soon after. They had made good time on the first stages in their Jeep Cherokee.

It was interesting to share the dune with the official photographers, to watch them work and learn by observation.

We got lots of great photos from this checkpoint, but we weren’t able to stay longer to photograph the other cars in the team, because Stéphane and Caro called for assistance. They were having trouble with the wheel hubs; the wheels wouldn’t turn, and we had to go help them in the dunes.

Stéphane found the problem: a cover was missing on the side of the hub toward the interior of the car, so dirt and sand had gotten into the bearing and locked it up.

There was nothing to do but replace it. Stéphane would make a quick repair to get the car back on the road, and then head back to camp where it was easier to work to finish the job right.

The day before, the Protruck had a minor scrape with the Cherokee and the rear fender had been damaged. While Stéphane finished replacing the hub, we had a few minutes to admire the repairs Edouard had made during the night.

Before we were finished, someone from the Orga came by looking for another car that needed assistance in the dunes. We thought we had seen in when we arrived in the JK Rubicon, so we went along to see if we could help locate it.

The car didn’t have a GPS, so we didn’t have any coordinates and it took a while to locate it. The pilot had been caught by surprise by a difficult passage when coming over a dune and the car had turned over. He had a badly broken hand and had already been evacuated to the hospital, while the copilot stayed with the car waiting for assistance to come tow it out of the dunes.

Once help was on the way, we went back to join Stéphane, who had finished repairing the hub enough to get back to camp.

When we got in, he immediately set to work to make sure that everything was cleanly mounted.

Later we had some time to relax and share stories with the other drivers by the pool.

It was a long day for everyone, but those who didn’t have work to do could take a well-deserved rest, like this pilot we saw sleeping by the pool.

4 Responses to Tuareg Rally, Day 3: Hell’s Garden, Labyrinth And Dunes Around Merzouga

  1. Pingback: Day 6, Tuareg Rally: Return To Missor « Erg Machine

  2. Diederick v Haselen says:

    Do you perhaps made a picture of my #335 on day 3? If you have could you be so kind and email it to me? Many thanks from Holland.

    • ergmachine says:

      The photo galleries from Day 3 should be up this weekend. #335 doesn’t seem to be in the list, but we have lots of good pictures that didn’t make the shortlist. We’ll check and let you know.

  3. Pingback: 2012 Tuareg Rally, Photo Highlights « Erg Machine

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